SINGAPORE - Sustainability is the buzz word these days, but not everyone may know how to walk the talk.
They can learn how to do so now, at a carnival that aims to highlight how every small action - whether the use of energy-efficient appliances, recycling or taking public transport instead of driving - counts.
The annual Clean and Green carnival, held as part of the Clean and Green Singapore environmental campaign, is taking place on Saturday (Nov 5) at the open field opposite Khatib MRT station.
The event is organised by 10 Government agencies, including the National Environment Agency (NEA), NParks, Building and Construction Authority, the North West Community Development Council, and the Land Transport Authority.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was guest of honour at the event. He planted a tree along Yishun Avenue 2 to mark its launch.
In his speech, he told the audience that he makes it a point to join the carnival every year as it is a reminder of the importance of keeping Singapore clean and green, and to never take it for granted.
Getting to where Singapore is today took a lot of effort, and the Republic can be proud of what it has built so far, he said in his speech.
"We have to keep up this clean and green effort... that is why we plant trees at this event every year. Not only do they improve our living environment, they carry a deeper meaning... one generation plants the trees, the later generations enjoy the shade."
Mr Lee also highlighted the threats of climate change - rising temperatures, droughts and the spread of mosquito-bourne diseases such as dengue and Zika.
Johor's Linggiu Reservoir, from which Singapore draws more than half its water from, is now at 22 per cent. It had been 25 per cent full in September. In the face of climate change, everyone has a role to play in making the city sustainable, said Mr Lee.
The Government has moved by building infrastructure such as water treatment plants to boost water security, and by investing in energy efficiency. "But sustainability also depends on how each of us live our daily lives and adjust our habits," said Mr Lee, pointing to measures such as reducing waste and saving water.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said: "We have done much over the past 50 years to create a clean and liveable environment. But we need to further our mission to build a collective culture that is attentive to environmental issues, and where every individual takes active steps to show care for our environment. More importantly, sustainable living needs to be part of the Singapore DNA."
The carnival is designed in a way that walks visitors through how to go green in various aspects of their lives - from using energy-efficient appliances and recycling at home; to enjoying the greenery on the park connectors near most homes, and even on how to go green at the workplace.
At the showcase on green economy, for instance, there will be exhibitions on what a green office looks like, and how sustainable technology can create new economic opportunities for Singapore. There is also information on career and education opportunities in this sector.
For a more hands-on way of celebrating a Clean and Green Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) is organising four guided walks for members of the public.
They include tours on the new Bukit Panjang Community Garden Trail, the Pasir Panjang Nursery, as well as the newly reopened Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. For city folk, there is also a tour of developments certified for greenery excellence in Singapore, such as the Enabling Village and Siloso Beach Resort. Those interested can sign up at www.nparks.gov.sg.
Later on Saturday, Mr Masagos gave reporters an update on how the country has fared in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, which was launched in 2014. It sets out green targets and strategies for Singapore to achieve by 2030.
"I'm glad that the Paris Agreement yesterday came into force and that every country in the world must now do their best to make sure to reduce their emissions... For Singapore, we have been making incremental gains through our Sustainable Singapore Blueprint," said Mr Masagos on the sidelines of the event.
Among the updates given by his ministry was that for the proportion of households near a park. The blueprint had set a target for 90 per cent of households to be located within a 10-minute walk of a park. As of 2015, 83 per cent of households had convenient access to parks.
To promote a car-lite nation, Singapore has also set itself a target for locating 80 per cent of households within a 10 minute walk from a train station. In 2015, 60 per cent of households were thus located.
Mr Masagos said: "It is impossible for the Government to achieve emission targets on our own. We can make regulations, pass laws, but is more effective if everyone pitches in and do their part to make sure that our way of life is sustainable."